Philippines, The Middle

Thresher Cove Resort

Thresher Cove Resort

The morning of the 20th Mamie and I awoke to commence our dive trip in Malapascua.  At reception we found out our trip to Gatos island was cancelled that day due to weather.  We decided to dive the house reef they were going to instead and enjoyed seeing lots of different types of shrimps, a big mantis shrimp, five different seahorses, pipefish, horned filefish, flounder, lion fish, and a sea moth!!! I saw so many new things on this first dive I was already in love with what the Philippines had to offer. 

Scuba Mamie

Scuba Mamie

That afternoon we arrived back at the resort around two in the afternoon where we chilled and ate at the resorts restaurant.  Later, we went to explore the town/island.  I found that with the small and winding roads it was very easy to get lost.  However, the island is small enough that after a few wrong turns the pathways started to look a little familiar.  This island was different for me.  The interior is carved out by very small narrow mostly dirt roads, there were only motorbikes, no cars or trucks.  Everything wove around each other with no real rhyme or reason.  One moment you would be walking along a tall wall that bordered a resort and the next minute you would be looking into someones private yard or home.  Once we were on what I considered the main beach there were more resorts, restaurants and dive schools lining the beach all offering something a little different.  This was where we saw the most foreigner influence.  The menus offered Italian, Thai food or Western fare and there were almost always a few Filipino items as well.  After a fabulous pasta dinner including interesting and great cocktails we wove our way back to the resort to rest for our early morning dive.

Beautiful cocktails on the beach

Beautiful cocktails on the beach

The next morning we awoke at 4AM to go to Thresher Shoal where you can almost be guaranteed to see thresher sharks.  The dive consists of a long wall where the sharks come to “cleaning” stations in the morning.   We followed our dive guide Victor eagerly and although we weren’t able to sit along these roped areas and watch as the sharks went by we were greeted delightedly by one curious thresher coming right next to our group, and then another later on that we thought was soaring into a cleaning station but alas he kept swimming.  Even though our sitings were short-lived we were ecstatic and I managed to get a pretty good GoPro video of the first one cruising by.  

Thresher Shark!!!

Thresher Shark!!!

After our thresher dive we arrived back at the island where Mamie and I had a nice post dive breakfast.  We parted ways that day because the Gatos Island trip was back on and Mamie having seen the island diving previously, decided to rest for the afternoon.  Gatos Island was a glorious dive site filled with so many arrays of healthy corals and fish that I was constantly distracted.  I saw squids for the first time, I know this seems unfathomable but it’s true!  I saw my favorites, cuttlefish and varieties of nudibranchs.  I was most excited to see the largest banded sea snake I have ever seen.  Malapascua diving was setting a high bar for the rest of the trip.  

Banded Sea Snake, not the biggest one I’ve seen, but still big!

Banded Sea Snake, not the biggest one I’ve seen, but still big!

The next morning we were off early early to get the first “ferry” and then a bus from the port to Cebu City north bus terminal then a taxi to the south bus terminal, a bus/car ferry to Dumaguete, then a bus to the middle of no where, and a tricycle taxi to finish the journey to Liquid in Dauin.

Philippines, The Beginning, Part two

Malapascua Island

Malapascua Island

  As I waited in Cebu City for Mamie to show up I only did a little bit of exploring and a lot of reorganizing life.  This trip and the one to follow were fast and furious so this was my time to catch up on the computer among other things.

 

I managed to find a fantastic coffee shop, only steps from my apartment building, where I did some reading and writing.  This was at Coffee Bean $cent, I ordered a croissant and mint mocha.  I am a sucker for mint mochas, and theirs was exceptional. I haven’t been delighting in as many fancy coffees as of late.  Basically becoming obsessed with bulletproof coffee.  For those of you who don’t know what that is, it is coffee with butter and coconut oil.  It sounds awful, and I thought as much at first, but once blended in the blender it is all frothy and super delicious.  It also has all the healthy fats our body desires straight away in the morning and I think helps with my appetite all day.  I bring this up because having fancy coffees now with sugar and milk products really don’t make me feel well.  So this mint mocha had to be good to put up with the inevitable stomach ache later.

 

Once Mamie arrived in the city we had a cool little night out down the street at Cubana.  We shared a pizza and some beers and it was fun to know that the beer of choice in Philippines is San Miguel, which is one of my favorites.  The entertainment was not lacking and we had to sing along with the beautiful Filipino woman who was belting out some Alicia Keys songs.  Sadly, by about ten o clock we were knackered and headed to bed for our long journey north in the morning.

Sunset Malapascua

 Heading to Malapascua in the morning from Cebu City on a bus required us to be up and ready to go early. Thankfully, Mamie was still jet lagged and woke up ready to go.  We took a taxi to the North Bus Terminal and found a bus leaving for the Ferry Port, which is where we needed to be to catch the ferry to the island.  We loaded a big bus with some great seats covered in plastic….you can make your own assumptions here.  It was slow going.  The buses, from what I’ve experienced, rarely go direct.  You have many locals and travelers alike on the same bus routes and it made many many stops.  We made it to the ferry port in roughly five hours, with one or two pit stops for bathrooms and snacks.  The ferry ride was another hour ride and a whole frustrating mess of bartering and trying not to be swindled.  We made it to the new ferry port for the last ferry at 4:30 pm, this is where the Ceres bus dropped us off.  This cute older woman in a stand took 100 pesos for each person and gave us a ticket. After about five minutes with three of us waiting this guy said ‘we “needed” to pay 500 pesos each for the boat to go’.  I looked at him and asked ‘why?’  He said, ‘because there are only three of you’.  I said, ‘so, this is the last ferry doesn’t it go regardless’?  He said ‘well we could go now if we each paid 500 pesos’, the third traveler included a young Filipino girl.  So I asked the girl, ‘do we have to pay 500 pesos’?  She looked confused and looked at the guy like what’s going on.  They talked in Filipino and she started digging for money and looked at me again and I said ‘I’m not paying that’.  She put her money away and the guy said ‘we will wait longer’. A few more people show up. Then he asked for 100 pesos more from each of us.  He even looked at this older woman and said we all have to pay it.  Everyone coughed up 100 pesos more and we were off.  Now this isn’t a typical ferry, or at least the ferries I am used to in Thailand, which are huge and have rows of seats and TVs with crappy movies or music on them.  This ferry is a traditional Bangka, which is boat in Filipino and includes the main boat with the out rigging on the sides.  I was told this type of frame keeps the boat close to the surface to avoid hitting the bottom and reefs.  Anyway, it is small and we leave with about ten passengers.  As we approach Malapascua, after about twelve hours of travel, I am exhausted and relieved we made it.

On the ferry to Malapascua

On the ferry to Malapascua

 Once on the island it became apparent the only vehicles are motorbikes.  Which isn’t a new concept to me, however, my luggage was a rolling mass of scuba gear in a large Stahlsac suitcase.  So we bartered a 50 peso per person bike to our accommodation at Thresher Dive Cove.  I loaded the bike with my luggage between the driver and myself and realized half my ass was hanging off of the back.  Needless to say of all the bike rides I’ve been on as a passenger that was the scariest!! After about ten minutes of hugging my luggage and squeezing my butt cheeks on this bike we made it to the back of the resort.  It has a dirt parking lot and a bunch of shabby old shacks in front of a steep staircase.  We hauled ourselves up the staircase to the security guard booth and told them who we were and immediately were directed to reception.  It was now night on the island and it seemed very quiet but the ladies at the desk greeted us with warmth and asked us about our diving plans for the next day.  

Mango Daquiri at the restaurant at Thresher Cove Dive Resort

Mango Daquiri at the restaurant at Thresher Cove Dive Resort

 Mamie and I filled out paperwork, signed up for diving in the morning, and headed off to unload our luggage and finally have a meal for the day in the resort restaurant.  Prices were reasonable and the food was good. Exhausted, we retreated to our accommodation which was right on the beach and big enough for a somewhat oversize twin bed and our luggage. The bathroom was in a building just fifteen paces from our cabana. I was one of the first to enter this bathroom and to my surprise when I flipped on the light a giant spider scurried from the top of the door to behind the toilet. I screamed, loud! I tried to look for him and make noise to “flush” him out, haha, but alas I never saw him again. So I reluctantly and swiftly went to the bathroom and left in a hurry. I ran to the cabana and asked Mamie if she had heard me scream. Fortunately, she had not, my temporary freak out did not wake up the resort. After the adrenaline rush passed Mamie and I crashed on our tiny bed to rest for the next morning’s adventures.

Spider!!!!

Spider!!!!